Nov 23 2020Share

Don't Strain Your Drain This Holiday Season

By AMWUA Staff

As the holiday season is set to begin, the preparation for our traditional gatherings may look a bit different this year, as many will stay home and limit the number of loved ones to celebrate with. But even if it's just turkey for two, it is still important to be kind to your drain and avoid holiday mishaps that could have you plunging or dealing with a sewer backup – activities that no one wants to partake in.

As you prepare your holiday feast, regardless of size, no amount of grease should ever go down your drain when you are cleaning up dirty dishes. That includes the cooking oil that may be used to deep-fry the turkey Knowyourfogand any food remnants that contain fat, oil, or grease (known as FOG), including gravy, buttery potatoes, or baked goods like leftover pumpkin pie. FOG can cause sewer damage and backups, and that is one thing you won't want to deal with at any point over the holiday season.

The water that goes down the kitchen drain doesn't disappear. It travels through the sewer system to the wastewater treatment plant to be processed and cleaned. It then is reused for purposes such as groundwater recharge and landscape irrigation or released back out into nature to join the water cycle once again. Since the sewers get water from thousands of kitchens, the smallest amount of grease and oil can build up and entirely clog a pipe as the fats and grease cling to the inside your city's sewer pipes, causing them not to function as designed. Those greasy contaminants can also make wastewater treatment and processing far more challenging than it has to be.

To avoid clogs, backups and ensure your neighborhood keeps things moving, here are a few ways to keep your plumbing working throughout the holidays and save your city time and money while maintaining FOG at bay:

FogdisposalPour cooking oils and grease into a small container with absorbent material, such as a paper towel or coffee grounds, and dispose of it in the trash or recycle it at a grease disposal or environmental recycling site that may be available in your city.

• Scrape food from dishes into the trash (not the garbage disposal) and wipe down greasy plates, pots and pans with a paper towel before washing.

• Filter and reuse large amounts of deep-frying oil.

• Refrigerate and reuse fat for cooking.

• Prevent food from entering your sewer by covering your kitchen sink drain with a strainer.

• Limit your use of garbage disposals because they only shred solids and do not prevent grease from building up again.

• And remember that hot water from your tap or dishwasher might appear to melt the grease and push it further down the drain, but it will solidify again once it cools. This will cause a build-up in the main sewer system ad can affect neighboring sewer lines.

By not putting any unneeded strain on all your drains and pipes, you can avoid an unplanned visit from your plumber, not just during the holidays but year-round. Clogged pipes and sewer backups are never a good surprise, plus they can do significant damage to your home, neighborhood, and the environment. Limiting contaminants and unwanted items from entering our pipes ensures a clean and properly functioning sewer system, which benefits us all.

To find out more about available cooking oil recycling programs, please visit your municipalities' website for locations.

For over 50 years, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has helped protect our member cities' ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more information, visit

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